In the first week of March when the coronavirus made its assault in the Sultanate, like many others, I too thought it would not linger so long. None of us even thought that the coronavirus would do this much harm to humanity.
We realised the fact that life will never be the same again, but at a closer look, we can foresee changes at every level of our lives.
What I fear is not the economic impact but the social stigma that will plague our society. We are going to live in a world in masks without handshakes and always at a distance from others including our loved ones.
I think due to this ostracisation that people hide symptoms and even avoid treatment. No doubt, it can lead to deep-seated social and financial fears.
The recent video in social media showing an airline crew member breaking into sobs in India because the residents of her locality were spreading rumours that she had been infected with the virus. When she was away, the neighbours came by and threatened her mother against even going out to buy essentials.
This was not an isolated case in India that ‘vigilant residents’ stopping people from going out of their homes simply because they travelled abroad in the course of their duty or met people who had COVID-19. In San Francisco, a number of pharmacies were boycotted following the death of one of its workers.
These kinds of incidents point to the fact that people who recovered from the pandemic will have to live with another traumatic life of being segregated from the society. No doubt, this is not social distancing rather it is a social boycott.
If social distancing is a scientific phrase to combat the virus, we need to be socially closer than ever. So one should not ask when will this catastrophe end, instead ask how we will continue in the post-COVID-19 period!
We should not allow our fear to make us hostile. Be kind and find ways to keep supporting each other.